10 Great Spy Movies

Great spy movies have a storied history in cinema and they invariably make for a rewarding cinematic experience. Any list of ten great spy movies is sure to leave off some favorites, but every one of the following movies can be acclaimed as among the great spy movies of all time.

  1. "The Lives of Others" (2006) is a film set in 1984 during the height of the Cold War in East Berlin. It tells the story of a couple of dramatic and intellectual stars in the socialist state and a Stasi (secret service) agent who observes and records them as they go about their lives.
  2. "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" (1965) is a Cold War classic adapted from a John le Carre novel of the same name. Among the great spy movies of all time, it stars Richard Burton as a burnt-out spy who is not quite ready to come in from the cold and work a desk job.
  3. "Three Days of the Condor" (1975) stars Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. It tells the story of a CIA researcher who returns from lunch to find all of his co-workers assassinated.
  4. "The 39 Steps" (1935) was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Considered a cinematic classic, this great spy movie tells the story of a Canadian in London who meets a woman who claims to be hiding from secret agents. She is murdered in his apartment and he goes on the run from the spy ring.
  5. "Dr. No" (1962) stars Sean Connery in the first James Bond film. As an agent of the British Secret Service, James Bond (007) is sent to Jamaica to investigate the murder of a colleague.
  6. "The Falcon and the Snowman" (1985) stars Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn in the true story of a young American who is employed to guard sensitive documents. He loses faith in his country and decides to sideline as a spy for the Soviets with help from a friend.
  7. "Black Book" (2006) is a Dutch film by Paul Verhoeven. It tells the story of a Dutch-Jewish girl who narrowly survives the war in Holland. She joins the resistance and infiltrates the regional Gestapo headquarters to seduce the commander.
  8. "Mata Hari" (1932) is a Greta Garbo film. Considered one of the earliest of the great spy movies, it tells the story of the notorious erotic dancer who spies for Germany during World War I.
  9. "Munich" (2005) was directed by Steven Spielberg and was nominated for five Oscars. This great spy movie explores the work of the Israeli Mossad team who exacts retaliation for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich in which eleven Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
  10. "Spies Like Us" (1985) is a John Landis film featuring Dan Akyroyd and Chevy Chase as a pair of totally incompetent CIA agent recruits who are parachuted into Pakistan and end up in Afghanistan. Certainly among the great spy movies for those who appreciate a comedic romp.
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